The Pretoria architects who renovated a beautiful Victorian house

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
WESTWARD HO, Nuclei Lifestyle Design Nuclei Lifestyle Design Front yard
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With an impressive portfolio, growing client base and an unmatched dedication to excellence, it’s no wonder that Nuclei Lifestyle Design is becoming one of South Africa’s premium architectural firms. 

As specialists in architecture, interior design and corporate environments, the talented team at Nuclei Lifestyle Design offers a range of services to clients. And no space is off limits, for one look at the company’s portfolio will reveal luxurious residential houses, corporate offices, and even retail environments. 

Based in Pretoria and operating throughout the entire Gauteng, Nuclei Lifestyle Design continues its successful day-to-day operations under the leading eye of registered and seasoned architect Hennie Pelser. 

Let’s catch up with the company by looking at one of their earlier projects: the renovation of Westward home in Irene, Pretoria. 

A new look for an old structure

In early 2006, Nuclei Lifestyle Design was contacted by the owner of one of the few remaining old properties in Irene Estate – a vintage Victorian residence. The brief was to assist in the design and renovation of this beautiful yet very decrepit structure. 

Flaunting fantastically spacious grounds (3600m²) and gardens, plus several other outbuildings, the property had to be restored with 21st century touches while also retaining some of its golden-age style. 

Enter the light

opened hallway that was previously dark Nuclei Lifestyle Design Classic style corridor, hallway and stairs
Nuclei Lifestyle Design

opened hallway that was previously dark

Nuclei Lifestyle Design

The first task of the professionals? To resolve the layout and circulation of rooms and corridors to make the layout more appropriate for a 21st century lifestyle. To keep the client’s investment solid, the residence had to have a required number of rooms, bathrooms and amenities. 

Using the foyer’s existing pillars and arches, casts were made to allow duplicate copies which could be re-used in the rest of the house – a clever touch to ensure consistency. This allowed some of the older areas to be reopened and introduce more natural lighting into the previously dark corridors. 

Keeping the vintage look

Apart from a few mandatory criteria, the experts had almost free reign regarding layout and design to enhance the property’s potential. Some restrictions were present in the form of budgetary restraints and the house’s heritage value. However, the architects saw the latter as inspiration instead of a challenge, for keeping the original house’s character was as important to them as to the client. 

Perfect for al fresco socialising

For the wraparound veranda with columns, an extension was decided on around the northern façade. This ensured a consistent look for the house’s character from all visible elevations. 

The new culinary corner

When purchased, the property presented no proper kitchen to the client. This was rectified by designing a brand-new cooking space which formed part of the main living area – a modern touch (open-plan layout) for an old Victorian / Art Deco structure. 

The bathrooms

Every single bathroom in the renovated house was either re-designed or created brand new. And all of them share a delicious old-world style, beautifully befitting the grandeur and grace of the rest of the house.

Wallpapers that wow

While busy with the renovation, old wallpaper was discovered which matched perfectly with similar designs manufactured in England since the Victorian age. To celebrate the original style of the interiors, such as here in the music room, these were imported to help add colour and character. 

Extra space

The old sprawling garden formed a vital part of the estate. This was given a new look with certain parts formalised in a formal Victorian-style garden.

For a later phase, other outbuildings present on the property were either torn down or renovated to complement the house’s new look (and add value, of course). This resulted in extra space / accommodation in the form of a lovely small cottage. 

All in all, a most successful renovation project by a top-notch architectural firm! 

Speaking of old structures getting new looks, let’s check in on The ‘before’ and ‘after’ styles of House Strubenkop.

What are your thoughts on this Victorian house’s makeover?

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